Saturday, February 26, 2005

Other voices I was talking on the phone with my dad a while back, and the conversation somehow turned to creationists, and more, specifically, what the fuck is WRONG with them? Then, a few days later, he sent me this email, out of the blue. Food for thought. Make of it what you will.

Mon, 21 Feb 2005 10:15:22 -0500
Subject: Re: Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Scientific Materialism
From: <********@********.***>
To: <********@******.***>

I would say these (in subject bar) are all ego positions, and anyone
Who identifies with them strongly is probably good and scared, at some level--and why not? The pure ego stance is Me vs. The Universe. And the Universe is incomprehensible, and closer to home, samsara, the sound of two hands clapping, is brutal. So the idea is to get a handle on God, one way or other. The Creationist is looking for an obedient God who will suspend the laws of nature for him, arrest him in midair like Spock grabbing Kirk at the beginning of that movie (the NFL player Isaac Bruce received some notoriety by taking that precise position). He, the Creationist, achieves this by getting a "handle" on the Bible and declaring that to be God. The Intelligent Designer wants a much grander God who has left his footprints in the natural world; his approach can plausibly pass as logic: if you drop the pieces of an airliner from the sky, it's not going to reassemble itself on impact without serious help. The Scientific Materialist wants nothing at all to exist except what he, himself, can get a handle on via the scientific method, which is the ego's devious method of elevating itself to God—the trained human brain being subject, everything else being object. All these positions are simply mirrors of the individual ego.

In fact they're all trying to make God into an object, one way or another, obviously a doomed project--anything that can be seen can't be God, because who then is doing the seeing? And in fact the discursive mind can only function in the presence of an object; think of a searchlight beam which in effect only exists if it happens to strike a cloud or an airplane. Thus, any level of reality which stands to us as subject to object, in some sense is deeper than us, is not going to be seen by us unless it chooses to be. (If angels exist, and they don't want us to know about them, we never will.) Thus, the attempt to see anything Beyond becomes sticky and produces all kinds of religions, broadly speaking, some of them truly nutty.

Yet fortunately we seem to be, as they say, hard-wired for spiritual experience, which could only mean that Spirit does want to be known. The Perennial Philosophy, famously so-labeled by Aldous Huxley, postulates a single reality--in effect, there is only God--as follows: Spirit-as-Matter; Spirit-as-Life; Spirit-as-Mind; Spirit-as-Soul; Spirit-as-Spirit. This is the Great Nest of Being, each succeeding level enfolding, transcending yet including the ones below. And it's genuine intimations of the upper two levels, normally as a result of arduous spiritual discipline (think: Buddha; think: the pre-public Jesus) which have produced the genuine core of genuine religion (which then, typically and historically, gets encrusted with bizarre and destructive dogma). In addition to spiritual practice, there's the spontaneous descent of grace, direct awareness that there is only God (17th c. poet Henry Vaughn; many others.) The spiritual practice route, which normally takes at least as much time and focused effort as getting an MD from Harvard, typically produces powerful--and replicable, if we're talking spiritual science--visions from the soul, or celestial realm (the bardo realm in Buddhism); at least that's one approach, the one which seeks fullness. The other approach seeks direct connection with Emptiness, Spirit-as-Spirit; this produced Zen Buddhism. In either case, if we posit that the answer to Who am I? is "Essence/Light/God filtered through/processed by a particular human nervous system (itself a manifest aspect of God, of course), then the objective of any form of meditation is to open up the filter/shut down the processing system so that Essence makes itself known directly as What It Is/That Which Is.

Well, this works. That Which Is simply reveals itself as pure Objectless awareness, or consciousness. The meditater is wide awake, in fact hyper-alert--whatever is passing by (sounds in the room, bodily sensations, thoughts arising) is registered, but EEG's show only those brain waves which are present in deep, dreamless sleep. That is, consciousness does not originate in the brain. Think of consciousness as existing as pure infinite potential, manifested selectively by human nervous systems as individual TV sets manifest a given program at a given time. The Ed Show, the Geo Show. (I personally have experienced pure objectless awareness in meditation.)

If there is only God, then God takes in everything finite (back to the Great Nest), and it would seem that everything that can manifest, must manifest. I believe that the saying attributed to Jesus, "The poor you have always with you," was not about economics. Every individual starts life as egocentric; the journey to a universal vision is long and arduous, all sorts of things can go wrong at every stage, and the vast majority never make the whole trip. This is a working definition of samsara, two hands clapping--round and round we go . . . In my experience, instead of railing at the nature of reality--which amounts to being perpetually angry with God--it makes far more sense to accept, with awe, humility, and gratitude, the glorious mystery of What Is. (Which does not imply passive fatalism, since part of What Is, is that those who have received the Teachings, in their own humble sphere, consciously attempt to manifest the Christ Conscious, the Buddha Nature, in daily life.)

Chop wood, carry water.


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